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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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Teachers: This Country Needs You Now More than Ever!

It gets in your eyes
It's making you cry
Don't know what to do
Don't know what to do
You're looking for love
Calling heaven above

Send me an angel
Send me an angel
Right now, right now

(“Send Me an Angel” by Real Life)
 

This blog is essentially a call for help.

It’s a reminder to educators about the massively important role you play in shaping the next generation.

It’s a challenge to step up during a time when children—when this country--needs you more than ever.

As the country continues to reel from the COVID-19 pandemic and now is entrenched in racial tensions, I can’t help but wonder about the future, about how the United States will emerge from this, how will all be forever changed. Honestly, as I watch the behaviors and actions of some, I also wonder how we might this country’s current education system might have failed in some ways to prepare us to live together as human beings.

I also feel for the young people right now, who lack the experience, maturity, and emotional fortitude to make sense of what’s happening, to feel safe, to feel hopeful and optimistic about the future.

That’s where teachers come in. While we may not be able to do much about many of the events unfolding, educators do possess an enormous power over future generations.  A teacher spends large amounts of time with students in the classroom, and thus, can have large amounts of influence. Of course, the entire responsibility of building a better world does not rest solely on the shoulders of teachers, but they are in a position to help in so many ways. So as teachers hopefully return to physical classrooms this fall in some version, please keep in mind the following ideas:

  • Preparing individuals who can creatively and collaboratively solve problems, whether they be in the form of viruses, environmental, political, terrorism, or involve technology. We’ve seen this type of response in in the medical community with the pandemic—we have role models of people working together, using resources and intelligence, to come up with solutions.
  • Teaching people to develop compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, awareness of themselves and others, and generosity. As we have witnessed in recent events, we need to continue to teach children to have a sense of justice and not allow people to be discriminated against based on race, ethnicity, religion or any other factor. To stand up for others.
  • We also need to teach students how to intelligently and strategically fight for change, such as institutional change, in a non-violent, effective manner. We need to spend more time focusing on individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr., Caesar Chavez, and Gandhi, who elicited change without further spreading fear and violence. Students need to know their government processes and constitutional laws, inside and out, so they can know when abuse and wrongdoing is happening, and they know how to impact that system.
  • With the next presidential election looming, teachers more than ever need to assist and model for students how to debate and disagree civilly, to agree to disagree, conflict resolution, and try to find middle ground without resorting to verbal insults and even violence.
  • Finally, teachers must help students feel a sense of saneness, safety, and love in this world. Just take time to listen to them, validate their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs as human beings. Be a compassionate, kind human being for them. That can make all the difference.